IUI, or intrauterine insemination, is among the most commonly sought after fertility procedures by couples who are struggling to conceive in a natural manner. IUI is reputed to be undemanding and puts forth minimal risks. However, any couple or woman planning to undergo this treatment should have a basic idea about what to expect during intrauterine insemination.
Step 1: Getting Started
The patient is asked to be present at the clinic a few hours before the scheduled procedure, on a particular day. Most IUIs are performed during a particular phase of the ovulation cycle. This is done to increase the chances of fertilization of the eggs. Mostly, IUI is performed during the initiation of the ovulatory cycle when the infertility is due to problems in the reproductive health of the female. The procedure is further timed to just a few hours before the ovulatory cycle is about to begin. If the reason of infertility rests with the male, the procedure is timed to a few hours after the ovulation has taken place.
Step 2: Sourcing Healthy Sperm
Ideally, the sperm used for this procedure should be freshly procured. The sperm specimen is sourced in the preferred manner which could be either from a donor or the partner (husband). If the sperm is being used from a donor resource like a sperm bank, it is thawed to ensure that the required temperature for ensuring sperm motility is attained. The sample is tested by the fertility clinic to test its safety and readiness. The semen is then ‘washed’, which is essentially a process of identifying the most viable sperm that has the highest chances of inducing a successful fertilization.
Step 3: Inserting Sperm into Uterus
The female patient is asked to lie down on the examination table. The legs of the patient are secured with the help of stirrups. The fertility doctor proceeds by inserting a speculum within the vagina of the patient. With the aid of the speculum, a flexible, tube-like instrument called the catheter is inserted into the vagina. The catheter is extended through the cervical opening so that it can reach the desired spot upon the uterus (the site for fertilization). Using a syringe, the fertility specialist inserts a measured quantity of the healthy sperm onto the uterine tissue. This is followed by removing the catheter and then withdrawing the speculum.
Some fertility specialists use a conception cap that is useful for securing the semen in the wanted position for a longer period. However, its usage isn't very common and it is not recommended during the first attempted IUI. The entire procedure takes about 30-to-45minutes and doesn’t require the use of anesthetics.
Step 4: Completing Procedure and Confirming Results
Once the procedure has been completed, the patient is asked to rest for some time. This is to ensure that the body’s movement doesn’t hinder the natural movement of the sperm and fertilization can be achieved in the first attempt itself. A few days after the procedure, the attending specialist performs a test to assess the state of fertilization. In case of failure in the first attempt, the procedure is again repeated in a similar manner.